(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers from Harvard University, USA, together with scientists from the Black Hole Initiative (BHI) project, have developed a new method for detecting black holes in the outer part of the solar system, which will also allow once and for all to determine the nature of the hypothetical Ninth Planet.
This work claims the possibility of using the future Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) sky survey to observe accretion flares, which will help confirm or refute the hypothesis that Planet 9 may actually be a black hole.
In their work, scientists led by Amir Siraj, a Harvard undergraduate student, developed a new method for searching for black holes in the outer part of the solar system, based on observations of flares that occur when a comet passes by a black hole. This study shows that the LSST sky survey is capable of detecting black holes by observing accretion flares that occur in collisions with small objects of the Oort cloud.
“In the vicinity of a black hole, small bodies approaching it melt as a result of heating due to the energy that is released when the black hole absorbs matter from the interstellar space surrounding it,” said Siraj. “After melting, small bodies undergo tidal rupture, and their remnants fall on a black hole, causing flares.”
Modern technology does not allow these accretion flares to be detected without prior guidance, but LSST sky surveys will be able to make such detections without difficulty, Siraj explained. These observations will also test the hypothesis that the hypothetical Planet 9, the existence of which well explains the unusual orbits of the Kuiper ice belt objects located in the outer part of the Solar System, may turn out to be the primary black hole, he added.
The study is accepted for publication in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters and is available for review in the online repository arxiv.org.
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